Strong hiring, training and culture propel Pacific Companies on the list

There is a bell in the office of physician staffing firm Pacific Companies.

“Every time someone does a deal — making a placement or bringing in a new search — they ring the bell, and everyone comes and high-fives them,” says Gary L. Cook, president and CEO. “There’s a real sense of teamwork and camaraderie.”

That feeling is at the heart of the firm’s place on Staffing Industry Analysts’ Best Staffing Firms to Work For list.

Based in Aliso Viejo, Calif., Pacific Companies focuses on physician staffing nationwide, both permanent and locum tenens (temporary medical staffing). It was founded in 2000 and recently moved into a building that gives it space to grow. The firm currently has about 40 employees.

Cook attributes the strong work environment to several factors:

Hiring for core values. To maintain its values as the firm grows, Pacific Companies has made a concerted effort in the past year to choose new hires based on the firm’s core values, including teamwork, accountability and a positive attitude.

“We redefined the interview process and brought in a talent acquisition specialist,” Cook said. “I’m a firm believer that when you put emphasis on things, you’re going to see improvement.”

The result: The company culture has become more values-focused even as the firm as gotten larger. “We focus on bringing in like-minded people, and they like the emphasis on creating a good culture here,” Cook said.

The new hiring process is also more transparent for both sides, Cook said, since one part of the process is a “shadow interview,” where the candidate watches a current employee on the job for 2 hours. That way, no one is surprised when they come to work at what the job entails.

* Training continuously. The firm has recently formalized its onboarding process to complement the strong training program it already had. New hires work with the talent acquisition specialist and the CEO at regular intervals during their first year. And the goal is not just to tell the new hires how they’re doing — the communication goes both ways.

“We want to learn if there are ideas from where they came from that we could adopt, or if they just have ideas for our business,” Cook said. “

A full-time corporate trainer — unusual for a company of this size — gives in-depth feedback to new employees, going over recordings of phone calls to critique them. There are also weekly training sessions for all employees on subjects such as medical specialties, medical economics, and screening and presentation techniques.

Recognizing hard work — while also having fun. In addition to standard recognition programs, individuals and whole departments regularly recognize their colleagues’ accomplishments in informal ways. For example, when the permanent placement division had a record month, the locum tenens division interrupted their staff meeting to applaud them.

Employees also have fun, playing shuffleboard in the kitchen, having ugly sweater contests at the holidays and competing for the best Halloween costume.